Why is VAWA Important to Women?
On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States, totaling more than 12 million people over the course of a year.
And in just one day more than 67,000 victims of domestic violence sought services from domestic violence programs and shelters in the U.S. and its territories.
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed like never before how domestic violence impacts women’s day-to-day lives. With quarantine levels high, hospitals across the country saw a surge in emergency care cases resulting from intimate partner violence (IPV).
- 1 in 4 women are victims of intimate partner violence, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
- It is estimated that 37.5 percent of Native women have experienced IPV in their lifetime, with 29.1 percent of Black women, 23.4 percent of Latinas, and 41-60 percent of Asian and Pacific Islander women reporting the same. Black and Native women are at the greatest risk for IPV-related homicide.
- There are 438 gun-related domestic violence fatalities per year, 10 million people per year are physically abused by an intimate partner, 20,000 calls each day are made to domestic violence hotlines, and 20 percent of women in the United States have been raped. Source: National Coalition to End Domestic Violence.
- Between VAWA’s implementation in 1994 and 2011, serious victimization by an intimate partner declined by 72%.
Prior to VAWA more than 60 percent of rape reports did not result in arrests and a rape case was more than twice as likely to be dismissed as a murder case and nearly 40 percent more likely to be dismissed than a robbery case. Tragically, less than half of the individuals arrested for rape were convicted of that offense, and even among those convicted, more than half served an average of only 1 year or less behind bars.
The passage of VAWA created a call to action and sent a strong statement that ending violence against women is a national priority. That this crisis deserves the weight of the federal government’s leadership and financial resources.
Incidents of sexual assault and domestic violence have seen significant declines since VAWA took effect, and with each reauthorization of the bill efforts to increase access to services, healing, and justice for survivors have improved.
According to a 2014 Journal of Women’s Health Study, the rate of intimate partner violence (IPV) against females declined by 53% between 1993 and 2008, from 9.4 victimizations per 1,000 females aged 12 years or older to 4.3 victimizations per 1,000, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Additionally, there was a 51% increase in reporting of IPV after mandatory arrest laws of VAWA went into effect, and there is 63% decrease in nonfatal violence and a 24% decrease in fatal violence.
Unfortunately, in recent years the numbers have stopped declining, and there was a devastating increase in intimate partner violence brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Prior to the most recent 2022 reauthorization funding for many of VAWA’s flagship programs has remained stagnant over the past decade, likely curbing its impact. Advocates hope that with the recent reauthorization and improvements, we will again see significant declines in rates of violence against women and a renewed focus on prevention as well as justice for victims.